happy birthday to patter

Patter is four years old.

Time for a tally. Time for a bit of reckoning.

This is my 430th post. I have posted a trifle over twice a week in that time. Actually, I posted about once a week for the first few months and then increased the frequency to twice a week. Since then I have occasionally posted daily when I am book writing or teaching a course.

I began patter because I thought it might be helpful to write about some things which consistently bothered the doctoral researchers I worked with. I thought the posts might be of interest to a few others. I thought that some doctoral researchers in my own school and my own institution might find the archive of material useful. Now, the doctoral researchers I work directly with tell me they always read patter wondering if I am writing about them – so here’s the answer… No, no, no. I’ll tell you if that’s the case. But I can’t guarantee that I haven’t stored something away for future reference and it’s become a general ‘thing’ I think I need to say something about. This is the only time I’ll write something directly to/about/for you. ☺

I try to vary the kinds of posts that I write. After all, a blog is not a methods text or an academic writing book. I’m not simply posting about my own experiences or writing as a virtual mentor. Nor is patter a series of op-ed pieces. Mostly I want patter to cover the range of topics that I discuss with doctoral and early career researchers. Sometimes that is about the relatively hidden rules, the secret business of academic life, that some people find hard to get access to. Sometimes it’s about me, that’s the professional me not the personal me, and what I do. And quite often it’s about the “stuff’” of scholarship and the nuts and bolts of getting the “stuff’ done.

I haven’t counted the number of words that I’ve written for patter, but it must be more than 424000, since most of my posts are a bit over 1000 words. It’s probably quite close to four books worth.

I do use patter as a place to try out things that end up in my books and papers. This is not an unusual thing for blogger to do. I’m not particularly worried about the repetition, because there is always more in the books and papers than in the posts and they have a different angle/take/point. I do however feel a bit sad about not being able to fully develop a lot of ideas in patter simply because of the word length of posts. There are some things you can do in a book that you just can’t do in a post – and of course that works vice versa too.

I’ve certainly used patter to write in a more conversational way than I do in books and papers. I tend to crank out these words in half an hour or so and ideally edit over a couple of days. Patter is written fast but quite often published almost immediately (hence some days of subsequent fixing of typos!), although I do have a small backlog of drafts. I enjoy writing in a more chatty tone. I like not having to do all of the inevitable signposting and throat clearing that goes with more formal academic genres.

League tables
The most popular patter posts are those which are directly pedagogical and/or address issues that are a bit tricky. The most popular post by far addresses the difference between aims and objectives, followed closely by one which discusses the difference between methodology and methods. Then there are posts about rejection in journals, writing conclusions, reviewing literatures and the like.

I couldn’t write about these things all of the time. And I don’t want to. I do want to try to promote a view of writing that is more than simply how-to-do-the-worrying-bits. I do love writing and reading myself. It’s what I (selflishly) most enjoy about being in higher education and it’s what makes all of the nonsense about contemporary universities bearable. So I do want to try to focus at least some of the time on writing without a problem-focused lens.

Patter is read in every country in the world. While most readers are in the UK, Australia, and the Northern Americas, there are lots of people everywhere else. I’m conscious that not everyone has access to the writing books that I’ve produced with my colleague Barbara, nor to the range of books that I have in my own library. I do have a kind of open access view about what I post. I don’t see that patter is about selling my books – this is why I don’t advertise them too conspicuously. Rather, I’m very pleased that more and more patter readers now come from countries where university libraries struggle to afford English language journals and books and where the price of an average academic text represents a very large chunk of an annual income. A year or so ago now I bought my own domain name and paid to remove the ads so that patter could make it through various kinds of national web-filtering/censoring systems.

There now seem to be about ten thousand patter regulars and, on average, six or seven times more hits than this per week or three. I’m very grateful that so many of you follow patter either by subscription or simply by checking in every now and then. I’m always very pleased when readers ask me questions or add helpful comments after a post.

So, thankyou all for helping to make me a happy and productive blogger. Happy birthday to patter. And here’s to the next patter year.

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in blogging, patter and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to happy birthday to patter

  1. Raj Shankar says:

    Congratulations! I regularly read your posts (mostly on email). I visit your website once in a while. I find the content very engaging and informing. I think doctoral students will find something to take away from every post of yours. Thank you (on behalf of the community)!

    So, happy b’day to ‘patter’ and to you Prof Pat Thomson for inspiring and helping so many of us improve our writing and more importantly write.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Linda Baines says:

    Pat, Congratulations. Your blog is one of my ‘go to resources’ as I undertake my PhD – I can always find practical and reassuring advice.


  3. scyeung says:

    Congrats and Happy Birthday! And thank you for sharing your thoughts and advice on the writing process on this wonderful blog. As a student in write-up, your blog has been an incredibly helpful (and enjoyable!) source of insight and motivation. Many happy returns. 🙂


  4. Haitham Al-Sheeshany says:

    Happy 4th bloggesvary Pat.


  5. safmedina says:

    A remarkable achievement, considering our time is either consumed by work, family, chores, organising and planning for the next day, or engaging ourselves with other leisure activities. Your blog, i believe, has been of an immense inspiration and insight to the world of academia, to me and to others. Keep up the good job. Or shall i say keep on posting.


  6. Jane S says:

    Felicitations, Professor Pat!
    If I ever manage to finish my thesis I probably ought to cite ‘patter’ in the ‘grateful thanks and acknowledgements’ bit …

    Liked by 1 person

  7. wanderwolf says:

    Happy birthday to Patter! Here’s to another productive year


  8. Robin Haldey says:

    I have recently passed my PhD viva and would like to let you know how much your blog has helped me. The advice you have provided on writing and structure has been invaluable. Thank you so much. Best regards, Robin


  9. Mehdi Riazi says:

    Happy birthday to Patter and thanks Pat for sharing such useful and insightful posts. I usually try not to miss any. Best wishes; Mehdi


  10. Helen Kara says:

    Happy blogging birthday! I always take away something useful from each of your posts, and often recommend your blog to others. I admire your productivity. Here’s to the next four years!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s